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Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance
Screening and Conversation

Admission is free. Reservations required.


Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance is a feature-length documentary celebrating the history, lineage, and future of jazz dance. Featuring a stellar cast of leading industry experts, award-winning choreographers, and legendary performers such as Debbie Allen, Chita Rivera, and Camille A. Brown, the groundbreaking film revisits the dance form’s roots in Africa and follows its evolution through every decade and genre. Identifying political and social influences and addressing appropriation, racism, socialism, and sexism, the film provides an honest conversation about jazz dance as well as a celebration, telling a story of triumph over adversity, oppression, and privilege. 

This special screening of Uprooted will be followed by a conversation with director Khadifa Wong and USC Kaufman School of Dance professors E. Moncell Durden and Saleemah E. Knight, who appear as dance experts in the film, moderated by its associate producer Kimberley Browning.

Khadifa Wong is an award-winning director. Born in London, Wong was a dancer before moving into film and theatre directing. Recent theatre credits include Five Plays and Changing Destiny as the Jerwood Assistant Director working with Kwame Kwei-Armah (Young Vic); Rockets and Blue Lights (National Theatre); How I Learned To Swim, I'm Your Rope, La Gringa, Adventurous, and 15 Heroines (Jermyn Street Theatre); and  Black Women Dating White Men (Drayton Arms Theatre). Her debut documentary, Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance, is currently screening on HBO Max.

E. Moncell Durden is a dance educator, choreographer, ethnographer, embodied historian, and author. As an associate professor of practice at the USC Kaufman School of Dance, he specializes in pedagogical practices that prove cultural and historical context in what he calls the “morphology of Afro-kinetic memory.” A highly sought-after instructor, Durden teaches practical and theoretical classes in the U.S. and abroad, and is an expert in locking, house, hip- hop, authentic jazz, and party dances from 1900 to the present. In 2010, Durden founded Intangible Roots, an organization dedicated to the education and preservation of Afro-Diasporic social dance formations.

Saleemah E. Knight is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary artist, choreographer, TV personality, lifestyle influencer, and professional dancer. A former student of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and trained in the Gus Giordano jazz dance technique, Knight graduated magna cum laude with a BFA from the University of Arizona School of Dance and received her MFA as a graduate fellow at UC Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Her performance credits include concert works of renowned choreographers Bill T. Jones, Donald Byrd, Bebe Miller, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. She has also performed commercially on the Daytime Emmys, ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, the Billboard Music Awards, Country Music Television’s MADE TV series, and Disney’s The Lion King Broadway musical, and with Beyoncé, Chris Brown, Tyrese, and Jillian Michaels, as well as provided choreography for Daddy Yankee, Wiz Khalifa, and many more. She has taught contemporary jazz master classes globally for conservatory programs such as Complexions Contemporary Ballet Academy and was an invited guest master teacher for St. Petersburg Russia’s DAR Jazz Festival. She is also a special guest instructor for Tremaine Dance Conventions and has been an invited presenter, red carpet guest, and judge for the World Choreography Awards. Knight is a full-time professor and an original founding faculty at the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. Simultaneous to her career, she began building the curricular foundations of the school in 2014.

Kimberley Browning (moderator) is a filmmaker and the founder and director of the Hollywood Shorts Film Festival, which launched in 1998. She also serves as a short film programmer at the Tribeca Film Festival and previously served on the programming teams of the LA Film Festival, Catalyst Content Festival, and Guadalajara Film Festival. Based in L.A., she grew up in the Washington DC area and attended USC. Her documentary producing credits include Room 19, which she also directed; Acting Like Nothing Is Wrong with director/artist Jane Rosemont; EarBuds: The Podcasting DocumentaryGod In The Box; and Laffghanistan: Comedy Down Range. Her television and digital content credits include A&E, HBO, Warner Bros, NBC, CBS, Comedy Central, RealNetworks,, and

Presented by USC Visions and Voices. Organized by the USC Kaufman School of Dance.

Photo: Vibecke Dahle

Event Details

  • Laila Smith
  • Manuel Ciosici
  • Crystal Moore

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